Designing for the Future of 5G

The growth of mobile communication and internet-connected devices has become an essential part of daily life and affects every aspect of society. The capabilities of connected devices have evolved over the years as cellular data networks have improved in strength, speed and reliability. That evolution is expected to reach an entirely new level with the widespread implementation of fifth generation (5G) wireless technology.

Deployment for 5G networks began in 2019 and continues today, and the faster data rates and shorter data throughput times brought by the new technology are expected to support a wide range of smart devices and game-changing applications. With carriers facing growing data traffic demands, a transformation is required to power the next-generation networks to enable 5G (which incorporates frequencies more than 10 times higher than 4G) and deliver increased bandwidth at low latency.

Transformative 5G applications such as wireless surveillance cameras, game streaming and VR physical therapy are not expected to make their way into the mainstream until 2021 or 2022. However, some common applications are taking advantage of the growing digital ecosystem today, including assisted driving capabilities in vehicles — from consumer automobiles to tractor trailers and agricultural equipment. The wireless technology community must continue to upgrade and strengthen their networks while working toward inter-network compatibility to enable a new wave of connected devices.

Enabling Enhanced Connectivity
In order to successfully transition to 5G, the existing wireless network, hardware technology and network architecture will need to be updated to manage the integration of all new activity. Carriers and operators alike must ensure their network connections are optimized to handle multiple types of connected devices to obtain the most efficient integrated 5G network.

Network service providers aren’t the only ones that need to prepare for the widespread deployment of the new technology. 5G represents not only the connection between devices and the internet, but also between multiple smart devices — vehicle-to-vehicle or building-to-building connections are possible with 5G.

Device manufacturers must begin designing products that can take full advantage of this new capability — every 5G-enabled device will require redesigned and highly optimized antennas to support the new frequencies. New materials, design concepts and manufacturing technologies are critical success factors to the adoption and implementation of 5G.

Building in Signal Solutions
While the higher frequencies used by 5G enhances connection capabilities, they also present challenges. High-frequency signals are more susceptible to being blocked by objects such as buildings and landscapes, and even people. The use of micro-cells, repeaters and transmission technologies such as beamforming and beam-steering can help strengthen the signal; these solutions can be built into internet-connected devices to ensure a strong network connection.

Device manufacturers should focus on using components specially designed for 5G optimization. Connectors that ensure and protect signal integrity and transmission are critical for constant connection. Beamforming — maximizing signal transmissions with shape-directed signals from the transmitter to the receiver and vice versa — is possible with the use of millimeter wave (mmWave) antennas to increase coverage. Modules that efficiently convert analog signals to digital signals are also needed to conduct beamforming on a variety of applications.

Thoughtful device design and the use of 5G-optimized components will seamlessly bring together all the new use cases emerging under the umbrella of 5G categories, including enhanced mobile broadband (EMBB), ultra-reliable and low latency (URLL), and massive machine-type communication (mMTC).

The Molex Advantage
Building on decades of innovation and expertise in the telecom and datacom industries, Molex develops disruptive technologies and leads in setting the connectivity standards that drive the industry forward.

Molex is fully invested in 5G research and development and utilizes newer and higher-frequency testing chambers. We offer both product design and system manufacturing expertise that enables designers to create 5G products suitable for mass production. Molex’s mmWave connectors are cost-effective and can be manufactured at extremely high volumes.

Molex is also a leading supplier to datacom companies and has developed expertise in high-speed connectivity and signal integrity management, as well as radio frequency (RF) technology, from development and production to life-long system support. The combination of Molex’s knowledge of RF antennas, micro connectors and signal integrity design generates innovative solutions that support industry-leading 5G mmWave technology companies.

Learn more about Molex’s 5G capabilities.

Director of Core Products, Micro Solutions